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Ballet Series Helps Center’s Performance

Times Staff Writer

The Orange County Center for the Performing Arts finished 1988 nearly $500,000 ahead of budget projections, fueled by one of “the most successful ballet series in the country” and an increase in single ticket sales, according to Center President Thomas R. Kendrick.

Response to the ballet series proved not only that Orange County audiences “are great admirers of ballet” but that this is “a far more cosmopolitan region than is sometimes ascribed,” said Henry T. Segerstrom, chairman of the Center board of trustees.

After the regular quarterly meeting of the Center’s board, Kendrick and Segerstrom discussed the results of the Center’s preliminary 1988 financial report. An operating loss of $4.8 million had been projected, but the loss was only $3.2 million, putting it $1.6 million ahead of projections, Segerstrom said. In 1987, he added, the Center’s operating loss was $900,000 less than had been expected.

However, 1988 projections for revenue from organizations and individuals supporting the Center, which had been budgeted at $2.5 million, fell short by $1.1 million. Kendrick said this shortfall resulted partially from the diversion of $150,000 from one support organization to the Center’s endowment fund. Also, a grant from the Steele Foundation, up to $750,000 to support the New York City Opera in 1988, was awarded after Dec. 31.

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The difference between the $1.6 million resulting from an operating loss that was less than projected and the $1.1 million shortfall in support--just under $500,000--will be transferred to the Center’s endowment fund, Segerstrom said.

“We always start from the premise of a balanced budget,” Kendrick said, repeatedly characterizing last year’s results as “extraordinary.” Practically, he said, “we can’t expect that to continue.”

Kendrick said the ballet season of “6 solid weeks” and “five outstanding companies” drew a paid audience of 85.4% of the Center’s capacity, well above the national average, enabling the Center to “break even” on the 44 performances.

Kendrick announced that paid attendence for programming presented by the Center rose from 83.1% in 1987 to 85.4% in 1988. The number of Center-sponsored performances went from 88 to 122, Kendrick said, producing a jump in attendance from 232,771 to 324,705.

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When included with performances sponsored by regional groups that use the Center, however, the percentage of overall paid attendance at the Center dipped slightly, from 79.1% in 1987 to 78% in 1988. Kendrick said he was “very pleased” that the drop was as small as it was.


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